Last week the Biden administration released its unclassified National Defense Strategy (NDS). The document was well written and proposed several new concepts and definitions that differed from the past Obama and Trump NDS’s. The aims of these two prior NDS’s were variants of “contain, compete, deter and if war arises defeat” China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and violent extremism. However, none of those objectives was translated into specific force structure and budget numbers leaving open the perplexing question of how much is enough for defence. Indeed, cynics assert that the defence budget, not the NDS, determines the strategy. The Biden NDS posited four major strategic aims: defending the homeland; deterring strategic (nuclear) attacks against the US and its allies; deterring aggression and if needed prevailing in conflict; and creating a resilient Joint Force and defence “ecosystem.” The means to accomplish these aims are to deter by “denial, resilience, and cost imposition.” And “Integrated Deterrence” and “campaigning” are central concepts to a future force that is “lethal, sustainable, resilient, sustainable, agile and responsive.” Definitions of the threat have also been reworded. China is “systemic” and “pacing.” Russia is “acute.” And Iraq and North Korea are “persistent.” But what do these terms mean for the strategy and the size and composition of future force structure and budgets? That is unstated. Substituting new terms for old ones can create the impression of innovation. However, without further explanation, renaming does not equate to creating new concepts. Is integrated deterrence more than a new name for past “whole of government and closer allied partnership” approaches? That too is unclear. Likewise, is “campaigning” simply a new version of traditional “presence?” Campaigning, as practised by the British Empire and the Marine Corps a century ago, was waging “little wars” and lesser forms of conflict in distant places, certainly a far different concept than today’s. Similarly, the characteristics required for the joint force from lethal to agile are not new. Substituting new terms for old ones can create the impression of innovation. However, without further explanation, renaming does not equate to creating new concepts. The same reservations apply to the “defence ecosystem.” What does ecosystem mean, how is it different from a defence intellectual, logistical and industrial base and what are the consequences for strategy? Attached to the NDS were the Strategic Nuclear Posture (NPR) and Missile Defense Reviews. The NPR called for a future deterrent force of ten Columbia class ballistic nuclear submarines estimated at $10 billion each less new missiles; 100 B-21 Sprint bombers estimated at $2 billion each; 200 B-52H modernized bombers; and 400 Sentinel ICBMs with a projected 50-year total cost of about $270 billion. Based on history, these costs almost certainly will increase. The same cost issues will affect missile defence. In terms of aspirations and foundational constructs and concepts, Biden’s NDS provided better direction than past NDS’s. However, relating the NDS to force structure and budget is missing. The current Joint Force consists of about 1.4 million active duty personnel and next year’s budget is estimated at $850 billion. That spending is 3.8% of GDP and, because of growth in mandatory spending, 14% of the total budget. Is that appropriate and enough? Or is it too much or too little? Could an alternative smaller active duty force of one million and an annual budget of $650-700 meet the strategy? Some argue for spending at least 5% of GDP equating to a larger force of 1.5-1.6 million and a $1.2 trillion budget even though, short of a war, that is fiscally and realistically infeasible. This NDS is silent on how much is enough. Two Damolcean swords, unmentioned in the NDS, cannot be ignored: cost growth and recruitment. To pay for dramatic, uncontrolled annual cost growth in the Pentagon for every item from precisions weapons and people that continue to soar, to pencils, 5-7% is needed. Add inflation of 8-9% an annual increase in excess of $120 billion is needed just to stay even. That would bring a $1 trillion 2024 defence budget. Recruitment is becoming a crisis, not just a problem. Except for the Marine Corps which met its numbers by increasing retention of senior personnel (that is costly and does not fill empty junior positions), each of the services failed to meet recruiting goals. The NDS makes no mention of how both will be resolved and how, if neither is the strategic consequences. The publicly released NDS is more a policy statement than a strategy to drive the size, deployments, composition and costs of the Joint Force. Perhaps, the classified version does. But what is new? The writer is a senior advisor at Washington, DC’s Atlantic Council and a published author.